Was Game of Thrones Always Going to Disappoint Me?

It’s the tenth anniversary of Game of Thrones… and I wouldn’t have noticed if not for this video on its ruined legacy. And it got me thinking a couple of things- 1) how did time fly so fast and 2) was GOT ruined or was it always designed to go up in wildfire? Obviously, I won’t be using this post to address the former, just the latter 😉

Before GRRM superfans tar and feather me- I’m not trying to take away the series’ merit. Don’t get me wrong: I love the world building, the characters and fascinating themes. However, speaking to my own personal taste, reflecting on some of the concepts does make me wonder if I was always going to wind up unhappy with the ending.

Game of Thrones was always a divisive series. Barely an episode could go by without some kind of critique or scandal. And this is not an accident or merely the showrunner’s doing. Going off of Martin’s own interviews, much of the series is designed to be a counterbalance to traditional fantasy. The traditional fantasy that I, and many other mainstream audiences, love. Lord of the Rings, for instance, is famously hopeful, inspiring and the prime example of good triumphing over evil. Though it has tragic elements, it certainly does not hinge on them. When we set out from the Shire we are assured of a safe(ish) resolution.     

Whereas GRRM promised us bittersweet. And if it is to be a counterbalance to the likes of LOTR then by golly that must be some BITTERsweet ending. Most of the plot points have tragedy written all over them; there is barely a glimmer of optimism in all the books. The best we could hope for is our favourites not dying and maybe, just maybe getting their revenge! In the words of Ramsay Bolton…

That’s not to say all tragedies are disappointing. In the usual ebb and flow of a tragedy, there is often a highpoint that alleviates the characters’ (and the readers’) suffering. Think Tess and Angels’ blissful summer in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Of course, we know this lovely moment cannot last, yet we can delude ourselves into thinking it will, and this gives us our catharsis. Game of Thrones never really does that. Romantic moments are often told from another perspective or tarnished by the realities of the situation (eg Daenerys may fall in love with Khal Drogo, but she’s also raped by him first).

There’s a reason every moment of “happiness” is framed this way. And that’s because it’s working from a principle of being *realistic in the postmodernist sense*. It’s fundamentally endorsing the idea that meaning is found where you place its value. In the world of Game of Thrones, there are no heroes and villains, there is no good vs evil, there is no right and wrong. There is no objective truth- merely the matter of where you place your sympathy. GRRM takes the morally relativistic view that all his characters will inevitably fall to the dark side… And frankly none of their struggles matter because of that. No happy ending is/was ever possible in this series- for anyone. Which is not so much tragic as it is depressing.

As much as I can appreciate this for its uniqueness, it’s not exactly satisfying. That’s not the point of this story. Rather, it’s designed to push boundaries, subvert our expectations and make us question the genre. While we like to blame D&D for the subversive elements, subversion is pretty much woven into the fabric of the narrative. And that has its upsides… and its downsides. Because sometimes there can be narrative consequences when you try to challenge an existing idea.

Inevitably you may question the story that’s making you question everything. I for one don’t think every concept in GOT makes sense. The critique of Aragorn becoming king, for example, is flawed. Because, I happen to think that if he’s capable enough to get an army of dead people on his side, then he’s perfectly capable of hiring some plumbers to set up a sewage system (and I have no idea why GRRM thinks otherwise). It is entirely possible for a leader to be strategic on the battlefield and with the treasury (and there are historic examples of this). This may seem like nit-picking, yet this is such a foundational element to the story, that it leaves me questioning will I ever be satisfied with the outcome of this series? These issues nag away at me and could indicate that this series was never for me in the first place.

Of course, this whole post is somewhat premature. No matter what I think I know, I have to add the caveat that I don’t know the actual ending (none of us do). There are some incredible theories mapping out sensational conclusions and GRRM’s finale could end up putting even those to shame. So, this post could be meaningless when the final book comes out. Personally, I very much look forward to being proved wrong 😉

So, what do you think? Are you optimistic about GRRM’s ending? Do you have doubts like me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

The Importance of Knowing Your Own Taste: Ways to Avoid the HYPE and HATE Train

There are lots and lots of reasons to be clear about what you want in life and reading. For starters, there’s considerably less pain and more to gain. It’s a great way to find more joy, meaning and happiness. And it’s a strong way to avoid following the crowd off a cliff and into a great big steaming pile of cow dung (which you could’ve smelt from the top of that cliff if you’d only listened to your nose).

Cos yeah, we’ve all been there (figuratively speaking). We’ve all picked up that book we damn well knew we didn’t want to read; we’ve all taken someone else’s word to avoid something we later enjoyed. Then we’ve kicked ourselves for time wasted. We’ve all thought why did I listen/not listen to the hype just then. And of course, no one is fully immune to the nebulous methods of marketing gurus, but being clear on what you do actually want is a good way not to get swayed in either direction. It’s a good way to know whether to hop on that bandwagon… and it’s also a good way to steer clear of the cancellation fanatics too. Knowing your own taste is about being comfortable in your own skin (so that hopefully you don’t go all Buffalo Bill on your enemies).

The great thing about knowing your own taste is you don’t have to avoid different points of view… not that it would work anyway. Amazingly, you can’t socially distance yourself from every single differing opinion (much as some people would like to try) which is why it’s probably healthier to just take it in small doses 😉 And luckily, there’s this tried and tested method of just listening to people with different views/perspectives/tastes. I often read and watch reviews from people who don’t have the same opinions to me- and you know what? Doesn’t hurt a bit! Sometimes I learn something, sometimes I find something new to read… and sometimes nothing happens at all and I go on my merry way.

Because part of being a sentient human/primate is knowing not to take every word other people say as gospel. It’s only if we know ourselves that we can understand another point of view. That’s why if you know your own taste, you won’t have any trouble identifying where opinions overlap and where they diverge. It really is that simple.  

Plus, there’s the added bonus that it might just make you a better reviewer. I know we all like to pretend that our word is final, but taste is subjective! And that means knowing where other people might not agree with us. I, for one, have always been pretty clear that I like prose on the more flowery side (or as I like to put it, I’m firmly on the Fitzgerald side of the Hemmingway-Fitzgerald Divide). I also care less about world building than some other fantasy fans. Etcetera etcetera. Point is: it’s good to know when not to trust reviewers.

So, don’t just listen to me! Go with your gut. Pick up that book no one but you seems interested in. Read whatever *you* want to read (and then put it down again if it turns out it wasn’t for you 😉).  

Oh and just by chance, as I was finishing writing this post, this helpful video popped up in my subs:

Just some food for thought! What do you think? Do you think knowing your own taste helps you avoid the hype/hate train? Let me know in the comments!

All the Positives with Negative Reviews

Ahh the topic that will never die. Recently on book twitter (because it’s always on twitter) there was a flaming row debate about how people that write negative end of year posts (ie worst of the year/most disappointing etc) were evil and should burn in hell wrong to do so. So here we are again. Even though I’ve discussed this before (more than once), I feel like there’s still more to say on the topic. Because I would go further than saying “negative reviews aren’t that bad”- I think there’s a lot of positive things to say about them too. 

keep it realNegative reviews make positive reviews more meaningful. The whole point of reviews is to get an honest reaction from a reader- otherwise it’s not a review at all. As Briana from Pages Unbound pointed out in her brilliant post on this topic, sticking to purely positive reviews is just marketing. And, unfortunately for authors, readers justifiably won’t just blindly trust marketing. Books need organic interest to do well; readers need real reactions.

sheepAs a subset of this, a little negativity can lower hype. For me, this is especially useful, as overhyped books intimidate me. I don’t want to be the first person to dislike it and I don’t want to go into a book with expectations that are too high. I don’t fancy being a guinea pig (I’m a monkey) so I actually need someone to try it first and say something a bit more balanced before I can read it (come to think of it I’m more like a sheep 😉)

throw booksAlso, negative reviews rarely put people off. I for one can only think of a single time that a negative review put me off a book (over a very specific taboo subject). Frankly, the only guaranteed way to make sure I don’t read your book is having a hissy fit about negative reviews (and a good way to get me to support the reviewer in question).

merlin books sharingOn the flipside, negative reviews can make me add it to my TBR- even if it’s something I’ve never heard of before. Readers are smart enough to know that reviews are subjective and discern whether they want to read it on their own. For instance, one of my biggest pet peeves is the insertion of unnecessary politics into entertainment- some readers agree with me, others don’t. Amazingly, because people have minds of their own and can think for themselves (*gasp*) I get plenty of people commenting on negative reviews telling me they plan to read the offending book anyway 😉 (even more amazingly, I don’t stop them! 😉) It’s almost as if people have freewill 😉 And I hate to break it to any author that doesn’t know: not everyone is going to love your book! Reviews aren’t just for readers, they’re for finding the *right* readers.

therapy luciferLet’s be real though- negativity isn’t always about people that haven’t read the book. No, it’s also therapeutic for readers to bond over books they didn’t like. I don’t know about you, but I’m more often drawn to negative reviews for books I didn’t love. I fully admit this is playing into my confirmation bias- but I find it helps me clarify my own thoughts and realising *I’m not the only one* helps me feel sane!

hoarding booksNow, as hard as it may be, I do also try to read negative reviews for the books I love, because I’m all about (attempts at) objectivity for favourites. For me, this is a healthy way of developing a well-rounded response to a book. Sure, I’m unlikely to agree with all the criticisms (because when it comes to arguments around books, feelings come first). Nonetheless, I find it helpful to get different perspectives 1) because it makes me a better reviewer, so I can warn readers off things they may not like (which could be as simple as a statement of fact, like “it’s slow” or “it has flowery writing) and 2) because it gives me the opportunity to strengthen my argument in favour of a book 😉 Because ultimately, that’s what this is all about… even negative reviews act as a ploy to get people to read MORE BOOKS 😉

So, what do you think? Do negative reviews have a place in reviewing? Do you see the positive side to negativity? Or do you see this debate differently? Let me know in the comments!

Lessons learned from looking back on 5 years of top tens… because hindsight is 2020!

Yeahhh I knew I’d make that joke before the end of the year 😉 (don’t be surprised if I make it several more times before we’re done, cos something good had to come out of this year 😉). I don’t know about you, but I love to look back on my top ten posts every so often. It gives me such warm fuzzy feelings to revisit and remember every great book I read. And I get especially nostalgic as I start working on my new favourites lists! Which is why, after five years of doing Top Tens, I thought I’d share some thoughts about what happens when I look back on these posts!

Very occasionally, there are books I look at and think “why did I put that on here?”. A good example of this is Throne of Glass, back in 2015, because I only fell in love with it at book 3 (it’s possibly also tainted for me by later books). That said, this rarely happens, because competition is usually so fierce and (luckily) I read a lot of unbelievably amazing books!!

Sometimes, though, I would like to reshuffle the list a little. Such as in 2016 War and Peace should’ve ended up at #2 and Peculiar Children at #10. Also, in retrospect, I read so many *incredible* books in 2018, that I don’t know if I would keep the same order (Circe certainly seems like it should be higher… but then it had some really stiff competition!)

That said, so far my feelings about the number one pick haven’t changed! And on that note, I love that each year I’ve chosen a book from a different genre: non fic in 2015 (admittedly by accident cos I didn’t order that post on purpose), historical thriller in 2016 (or whatever genre Shadow of the Wind is being classed as today 😉), fantasy in 2017, classic in 2018, contemporary in 2019 (which was also an audiobook for a change!)… it’s a great mix!

(BTW my least favourites never change position- but the big difference is I don’t tend to go back to them, cos I like to forget those books existed!)

So there you go- that’s what I think when I go back and look at old top tens! Do you have this habit too? Do your opinions on the books you’ve included change or stay the same? Do you ever rethink the order? Let me know in the comments!

When can you dismiss criticism?

Taking on board criticism is an important part of life. As writers in particular, we need feedback to grow, improve and potentially perfect our craft (as the marvellous Mary @Mary and the Words talked about recently). It’s therefore no surprise that it’s become a cornerstone of modern writing advice to get that crucial reader response.

AND YET, not all of that criticism is going to be worthwhile. Let’s be real: it’s not always going to be constructive or helpful or relevant. This may be an *unpopular opinion* right now, but you don’t always have to listen to it.  

Sometimes you just have to *take the advice from whence it comes*. If someone, however nicely, says that the style is just not for them or that they don’t read this sort of thing- that’s fine! We all know that taste is subjective, so not everyone is going to be the right reader for your work. Heck- there are plenty of bestselling authors that I don’t jibe with. That’s why you have to be cautious with this kind of advice (And on the offchance, as has happened to me, someone doesn’t like the genre/category you write in and wants you to write to suit their tastes… well they can kindly sod off).  

There is also the issue that not all criticism is designed to be helpful. Especially if they rouse a hate mob against you. Call me a cynic- I just don’t think people trying to destroy a career have an author’s best interests at heart. I know there’s a lot of talk about “learning” and “growing” from those experiences- nonetheless it seems the vast majority advice being doled out is to *run and hide* (in far less friendly terms). And, going beyond this specific example, I think it’s fair to dismiss critiques designed as an attack. Insulting, degrading or being downright abusive are not productive (as the wonderful Rain @the Withering discussed on her blog). On the plus side, those kinds of critiques can get you in the mindset of proving the bastards wrong! 😉

I’d also add that sometimes the criticism is coming too late in the day ie reviews. Yes, you could learn from reviews as an author, buuuut at that stage the genie is well and truly out of the bottle. If you read them, you’ll just waste lot of time wishing you’d written that book differently. Best to leave them alone. After all, reviews are for readers– not the author (and thus shouldn’t be sent to them unsolicited).

Ultimately, criticism can add some much-needed spice to your work, though it’s still worth taking it with a grain of salt 😉

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with me that there are times when you can dismiss criticism? And are there any other times when you should just ignore the advice? Let me know in the comments!

Writerly Benefits From Reading Widely

As a reader, I’ve never been a fan of genre snobbery. It’s limiting, makes reading less fun and means missing out on whole worlds of experiences. But what about for writers? Surely, if you’re an aspiring writer, you need to focus on reading obsessively in your own genre? Wouldn’t it be better to not get distracted by all those shiny titles outside the category you’re writing in? Well, while reading books in your own genre is *a must*, I’d argue reading widely is also vital for a writer’s development. Each genre has something special to offer and lots of unique lessons to learn. And even if successfully pulling off a technique is not guaranteed by simply knowing it exists, being exposed to a greater variety certainly helps! Let’s break it down by genre, shall we?

lily and jamesRomance– I mean the clue is in the title… romances teach you how to develop a romance. Whether it’s hate to love, friends to lovers or anything in between, all the tropes have been tried and tested in this very broad category. And it’s such a long-standing genre, so there are *countless* classics to choose from (not just harlequin novels with topless men on the covers 😉). If you want more banter and happily ever afters, then you need to be checking this out! What’s more, it doesn’t stop with the romantic relationships. Friendships and family relationships are a strong element of this genre- even if they’re dysfunctional (because, yes, you can learn how to write toxic relationships from this too- even if it’s just an accident of bad writing 😉). Basically anything related to relationships are going to be explored in this genre- so unless you’re writing a book about a hermit, you may want to at least try a romance sometime.

dragon gifFantasy– ahh my genre of choice. I could rave forever about why this genre is *out of this world*. Perhaps just one of the reasons I find it so rewarding is that, in some ways, it’s the purest form of storytelling. With more mythologically based narratives and archetypal characters, it can give an idealised version of reality (if not a real one). Plus, all that magic world building is great inspiration, because even if you’re setting it in the real world, you need to have a sense of place. It also has a great tradition of the pure evil villain or the fascist archetypal dictator- even if it’s not as good at the more human villains (although GRRM is a good example of someone breaking that mould). That said, it’s solid in the anti-hero department these days. If you need flawed, but lovable characters, then this is a great genre for it. 

spaceSci fi– this offers a lot of the same things as fantasy in terms of getting a sense of place… though it’s more rooted in reality (which is ironically very useful for fantasy writers!) I’m not a big sci fi reader, but even I can say it’s amazing for philosophical and existential discussions (not just cos this genre includes dystopias… though that’s a big pull!!). Plus, many space operas in particular know how to pack in *action*.

enchanted castle victorian homeHistorical– for me, this is another genre where the strong suit is the setting. Yet what I also like about historical fiction is how it brings facts to life. I also personally love how lots of historical fiction works so well as genre-crossers, blending lots of different categories into one. I’ve read so many that manage to be historical and a thriller and a romance. While every book should manage to do this, I’d say that I particularly love how historical fiction balances its themes and subplots.  

dr-evilThrillers– for me, thrillers are hands down the best for villains. A lot of the time you’ll have the opportunity to get in the head of some sick mothereffers. Thrillers also allow for sparser writing and occasionally atmospheric reads. It’s also good if you’re looking for some more of that realism (eek if a thriller spins into fantastical territory!). Plus, if you need a clue how to get plotting, pacing and twists right, then boy is this the genre for you!  

read-fastNon-fiction– well, for starters there’s nothing stranger than real life. Given that non fiction is factual (or at least it should be) you can get *actual knowledge* from them to use in your own books. Personally, I’ve learnt a lot about characterisation, people and the nature of evil from both memoirs and psychology books. But obviously, there’s so much more you can discover!

Of course, this was not an exhaustive list, but I hope it was inspiring! Do you believe there are writerly benefits from reading widely? What do you think they are? And what else do you get out of different genres? Let me know in the comments!

Does Book Twitter Actually Reflect the Reading Community?

Every year in free speech week, I try to exercise my freedom and talk about aspects of this (apparently contentious) topic. Yet this year I want to do something different. Not because we have reached the zenith of free speech- far from it. Despite the job losses, tragedies and general morose of 2020, the Twitterati have nothing better to do and have been busy cancelling, well, anything and everything. Which is why I wanted to talk about this tweet:

Maybe (most likely) it’s just my confirmation bias talking, but I think it’s such an excellent point. Disclaimer for book twitter: there are some nice little bubbles where you can play around with likeminded people (/primates)… Buuuut it’s not all fun and games. Twitter is kinda known for how toxic it can get. While it’s not the only place cancel culture thrives, it’s certainly one of the hotspots. I can’t tell you how often I go on twitter, see people congregating round an issue and think “oh no, who’s getting cancelled today?” Even if it’s a case of valid criticism, the platform doesn’t exactly lend itself to nuanced conversation and this leads to things getting heated pretty fast. And too often publishers get a whiff of the smoke and are scared off- but this needn’t be the case.

You see, (and forgive me if this is obvious) twitter is not reflective of the public at large. This is hardly a revelation. Looking at just some of the research (focusing on the States, given that 70% of users are from there… which you should bear in mind if you’re from outside the US like me), most twitter users in the US are more likely to have a college degree and have a higher income than the national average. Just 20% of US can be classed as active users (ie go on the platform once a month)- and of that number 80% of tweets come from the most active 10%. Meaning we’re only hearing from about 2% of the population. It probably isn’t any wonder then that (and many people will hate me for saying this) twitter often strikes me as an elitist club. As much as people claim that twitter is designed to give a voice to the voiceless, that it’s a great way for the powerless to have some power for themselves, that the gangs running rampant on there are noble “working class” vigilantes… I can’t see any evidence it’s representative of this. Observationally, I’d say the vast majority of big users are marketing/PR people, the so-called faces for faceless corporations, journos, professional activists and politicians. Ordinary people (ie consumers) aren’t represented on there for the most part… making me question, why is it taken so seriously?  

Time and again, it’s proven to not be a good source for elections for instance (which makes sense, given that even if a politician gets 100,000 likes, this isn’t a huge number considering… especially considering this can come from a global audience). Likewise, buzz on twitter doesn’t mean much- as excitable as twitter can seem about a reboot, this may not translate to actual fans buying tickets.

Similar logic can be applied to book twitter. A lot of readers don’t hang out on twitter. As the above tweet shows, it’s not necessarily going to reflect how well a book performs (especially since big names are so often targeted). It’s always been pretty debatable whether this particular platform even sell books. Anecdotally, I can also say that a lot of readers see the fires burning and run away. And even if they do stick around, a lot of people don’t want to get into the middle of a confrontation (giving the false impression that the debates are one-sided).

Which is why I wish publishers would take twitter with a pinch of salt. Instead of going off how angry someone can get in 140 characters or how many clapping emojis a person can use in one go, maybe just maybe, they can hold their nerve and wait for the general reading public to vote with their wallets. Maybe it’s time we ignored the drama flaming on twitter.

Ooh err, hope I don’t get burned at the stake for this one! 😉 But given I do actually like free speech- I’m open to hearing your thoughts! What do you think about book twitter? Do you think it’s representative of the reading public? Let me know in the comments!

Reviewing the Reviewers!

I love keeping track of my books, yet like many readers, I have my issues with Goodreads. Aside from being pretty clunky, I have many issues with the site: the recs are at random; it has poorly defined genres; the “choice” awards only highlight bestsellers; and there are fake reviews in the vein of “this author is a bad person 1*” or “I’m looking forward to reading this 5*”. All in all, there are a lot of areas that could be improved upon. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives to check out now… which is exactly what I decided to do.

Inspired by Kristin Krave’s wonderful post, I decided to look at two emerging competitors: The Storygraph and Book Sloth. I started with Storygraph and I’ve got to say I was pretty dang impressed. Firstly, it was a cleaner, more attractive site. Secondly, I loved the “Ordered For You” element. I was genuinely excited by some of the suggestions- especially since they were things I wouldn’t have thought about. I could clearly see if a book had elements I desired or if it was well liked. I really appreciated that you could break it down by mood and individual elements like character development.

Now, it didn’t manage to import all of my 1500 books- which is understandable, since I often have problems with my end of year exports and the site is only in beta. Personally, I didn’t love it as a database, as personally I’m often looking for something a bit more stat-heavy and I’d like to be able to isolate books by rating or genre. However, the site does what it intends to do well. It has a fun challenges section that could gamify your reading if that’s what you’re looking for. And if you treat it as a recommendations site and you’ll be very happy indeed.

Next, I checked out the Book Sloth app. There was a lot to like about this too- not just the brilliant name and cute style. This also had some good recommendations by topic- from “meet cute romances” to “classic retelling” to “astonishing fantasy”- although it was less personalised than the Storygraph.

screenshot bookslothTruth be told, I’m something of an app minimalist… but I’ve kept this on my phone and keep finding myself going back to it. I don’t know if I’ll ever get really into using it to keep track of my reading, especially since it doesn’t really work like a database, yet I do really like checking it out every so often. It’s so easy to use and gives me a good idea of what’s coming out soon. I’ve also got to admit, one of my favourite elements of this app was how the sloth puts on funky glasses whenever you refresh the page. I think the sloth may slowly gain in popularity 😉

Encouraged by Bookstooge’s post, I also briefly perused Library Thing. For me, this wasn’t a huge success. While it had a solid database, it’s very similar in style to Goodreads. A lot of my data that was imported had the wrong date (which I’m much too lazy to spend time fixing). I didn’t find anything particularly intriguing in the recs section either. To my mind, it didn’t offer anything especially unique and has only made me more eager to just build my database to allow for interesting stats offline (which I’ve been doing for the last couple of years). The one big plus is that doesn’t seem to have the toxicity as some parts of GR- so if you’re looking for a quieter place to hang out and record your book collection in peace, then it’s definitely the place to go.

And that’s all for now! Do you use any of these platforms? Are you tempted to check them out? Let me know in the comments!

How has my reading taste changed over the years?

Reading taste is a funny thing. In some ways, it feels static, like I’m stuck in a childish timewarp, loving what I’ve always loved and refusing to grow up. Other times, I’m feel like I’ve skidded into a space I don’t really understand, talking about genres I never thought I’d read. Because while I find there are some constants to my reading repertoire (classics/fantasy/classic fantasy) my taste has changed *a lot * in the years since I started blogging.

To start with, a big change (that may or may not be as noticeable) is how much I have fallen for romance and contemporaries. While I always enjoyed romance in my fiction, I didn’t tend to go for many rom com style books- whether they were adult or YA! Now, a shift began shortly before I started blogging, where I found I got a lot of stress relief from very fluffy YA books. Yet I wasn’t quite clear on where to find more of these books I was enjoying. *ENTER BLOGGING* and I started to get recommendations- I discovered New Adult and Regular Adult. A massive influence for me were people like Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse– who as far as I’m concerned is the Romance Queen! I’ve found too many heart-warming, charming and feel good stories to count! It’s been the start of a beautiful new adventure…

… Though that’s certainly not where it ended- because somehow I fell headlong into thriller territory (I bet you didn’t see that twist coming! I certainly didn’t!) I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it before, but my first foray into adult thrillers was the Da Vinci Code when I would’ve been around 13. To cut to the chase: it did not go well. I thought thrillers would never be for me. And then I discovered blog’s like Meggy’s. With her exquisite reviews, introducing me to the dangerously seductive world of killers and stalkers and messed up people, my interest was piqued. Intrigued, I took the plunge and picked one up. Then another. Then I began to seek them out far and wide. I guess once you’ve got a taste for the dark side, there’s no going back 😉 (plus it compliments all the super sweet reads I go for 😉) I’ve even (and this surprises me no end) enjoyed a few mysteries here and there!

But the biggest shift in my reading taste is that… I like non fiction now?! Back in the day, when I started blogging, I was so disinterested in non-fiction that I had to set myself a handful to read in a year. Now I’m currently at 20 in 2020- and it doesn’t look like I’m slowing down! Odder still, even though I vowed I didn’t like memoirs… a great deal of those are in fact memoirs. In this case, I don’t know what changed- maybe it was the passage of time, maybe it was some good recommendations or maybe it was just practicing a new reading habit that shifted my perspective.

And I guess that’s a good note to leave on- because while I still love the same books I always did, I can also say that experimenting has made my reading experience all the more rewarding. And I don’t think all of that came down to chance. Sure, I happened to stumble on some amazing blogs and recommendations- yet it took a pinch of courage to step outside of my reading comfort zone. It didn’t take me long to discover that the reading world was full of even more wonders than I knew. So, I’d encourage everyone else to do the same- you never know where it might lead you.

How about you? Has your reading taste changed over time or thanks to blogging? What do you think brought about this change? Let me know in the comments!

How On Trend Am I? Looking at Whether My Taste Follows the Crowd When it Comes to YA

thoughts orangutan

I’ve talked before about whether my taste follows the crowd and it’s something I often wonder about. Last month, when Goodreads celebrated YA, I noticed how closely my taste follows the crowd… well, for the most part.

Looking at 40 most popular recent Young Adult Novels and 100 most popular YA books of all time, I was surprised to find I’d read most of the books. Even more significant is how much I liked the books- my average ratings were 3.9 and 3.47 respectively. I gave 15% of books 5* in the recent YA books and 10% 5* in the most popular of all time. There were some outliers that I didn’t love (like Caraval and Lord of Shadows) or won’t read (Turtles All the Way Down), but for the most part I was at least satisfied with the vast majority of the books on the popular recent releases list. Clearly, I’m enjoying these a lot more- suggesting I’m on the right track to keep reading them. Turns out, I know my own taste! (go figure 😉)

To me, it makes sense that I’ve read so many of these as well, since these are the books with the most visibility and I’m not immune to marketing 😉 Plus, these are also books that are more readily available on a budget and if you use libraries a lot. So, in this case, I don’t feel all that bad about my taste following the crowd- especially given it’s leading to high levels of satisfaction! As much as I’d enjoy being a bookish hipster, I guess I’m quite mainstream when it comes to YA.

One thing I have to note from this experiment is that there were books on the most popular YA of all time that (at least to my mind) weren’t YA at all (Red Rising and Anne of Green Gables being the most obvious). But that’s a discussion to have (again) another day. I don’t think it massively skewed my results- though have to do my due diligence and mention it 😉

Alrighty then! Do you notice your taste follows the crowd in particular genres and categories? Are you bothered by it if your taste is quite mainstream like mine? Let me know in the comments!